Tuesday, April 21, 2009

News Flash - Cancer and Fertility in the New York Times Today

The New York Times published "Family Planning When Cancer Intrudes" today. I am thrilled that they are supporting Fertile Hope's mission by raising awareness about cancer and fertility, but also frustrated by a number of inaccuracies and misleading statements in the article. Bittersweet...

What do you think of the article?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Do I Explain Cancer & Death to a Two Year Old?

As you can imagine, I hear a lot of cancer stories in my line of work. What you may not realize, however, is that I mostly hear about diagnosis and survival, not death. People come to Fertile Hope, and me, when they are first diagnosed and want fertility information or as they become long-term survivors and want to fulfill their parenthood dreams. Well, today, the reality that cancer kills broke my heart. Someone who touched our family dearly died of cancer over spring break. She left a week ago healthy – or so I thought – and never came back. I am devastated, and I have no idea how to explain this to a two and a half year old. Any advice?

Friday, April 10, 2009

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Awarded as a Leader in Cancer & Fertility

Joyce wraps up her trip to Oregon presenting a Center of Excellence award and having drinks with Olympian Eric Shanteau

Last night, I was incredibly honored to present OHSU Knight Cancer Institute with Fertile Hope’s Center of Excellence award. The night began with an introduction by Dr. Brandon Hayes-Lattin, the Director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program at the Knight and a national leader on the issue. I was up next to present our Centers of Excellence award to Dr. Tom Beer, the Deputy Director of the Knight. Dr. Beer commented about the significance of his role as a father in his own life – personal, touching thoughts that really helped illuminate what we are trying do and achieve with this award. Then, Dr. David Lee, a true pioneer in ovarian tissue freezing and Fertile Hope Medical Advisory Board member, spoke about the what working together with the oncology team at the Knight has meant to him and his team at OHSU Fertility Consultants.

The keynote address was given by Eric Shanteau an Olympic swimmer, current world-record holder and testicular cancer survivor. (While Eric was looking sharp in his three-piece suit, he may have disappointed some in the audience who were hoping for a Speedo!) Eric’s description of his challenges with a cancer diagnosis in his twenties, in the public eye, in the midst of his bid for a berth in the Olympics, was funny, frank and moving. The very first question from the audience was whether or not he had banked his sperm! (Not a plant, I swear!) The answer, luckily, was yes.

After the event I was privileged to spend some time talking to Eric and I was impressed by his willingness to use his public persona to give back – in a role-up-your sleeves, do-the-work kind of way – and to do it so quickly – now – when he is less than a year from his own diagnosis and still training and racing.

Joyce had an incredible week promoting young adult cancer. What did you do to raise awareness about young adult cancer this week?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fast Track Fertility Programs for Cancer Patients

Joyce is up to more great things in Oregon this week...

I just had the opportunity to visit with the doctors and staff at Oregon Reproductive Medicine – a great facility and strong supporter of Fertile Hope for many years. We discussed opportunities for collaboration, and I was particularly interested in learning more about their “Fast Track” program – a special system designed to expedite and simplify the fertility preservation process for their cancer patients. It is a thoughtful and promising model...

What do you think reproductive clinics need to know about cancer patients in order to meet their fertility needs? Anyone other reproductive clinics have special programs for cancer patients?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Oncologist about Cancer & Fertility

  1. Will my cancer treatments put me at risk for infertility?
  2. What are my fertility preservation options?
  3. If I don’t preserve my fertility, what are my post-treatment family-building options?
  4. How long does it take for fertility to return and how will I know if I am fertile?
  5. Is pregnancy safe after cancer and what are the risks to my children based on my cancer and the treatments I received?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cancer Video Games - Who Knew?!

Fertile Hope's VP of Programs, Joyce Reinecke, is in Oregon celebrating National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week and just sent me this update:

I just saw Dr. Steve Cole of HopeLab give an amazing talk on their video game, Re-Mission, which was designed to help Adolescent Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients learn more about what is happening to their bodies and give them a sense of control over the cancer experience. It was a great presentation with much input from the audience about what they want to see (or not see!) in version two.

I'd love to know what Fertile Hope's followers think about using video games to teach kids about their cancer? Have you played Re-Mission? Any thoughts on integrating survivorship issues like fertility?

Monday, April 6, 2009

It is National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week - Who Cares? You Should.

Every time I see these statistics I am blown away. Is this really the state of cancer care today? Here they are:
  1. 70,000 young adults (15-39) are diagnosed with cancer each year.
  2. Cancer is the leading disease killer among 20-39 year olds.
  3. Survival rates for young adults have not increased since 1975.
What can you do to help?
We can achieve more together than alone. Let's join forces and make those shocking statistics history! Anyone have other ideas, information or suggestions on how someone can help?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Would You Consider Single Embryo Transfer?

Time magazine published an article this week about a recent study that suggests that the most effective and inexpensive IVF method may also be the least likely to result in dangerous multiple births – single embryo transfer.

In 2005, during my first IVF cycle to achieve pregnancy (not my egg freezing cycle), my doctor and I discussed single embryo transfer. I was desperate to have a baby and adamantly against it. That was 4 years ago and research come a long way since then, but I am still not sure my answer would be different today. While I have no interest in becoming the octomom, I like the idea of having twins. When I really dig deep though, the root of my decision is cost and convenience.

I have been through 6 IVF cycles thus far. On average it takes me 2-3 cycles to get pregnant, each cycle costing $22,000 or more (IVF + ICSI + PGD + Medications). Even with partial insuarnce coverage, it is expensive. Somehow, I just didn't feel comfortable spending that money and only transferring 1 embryo. I also liked the idea of twins in that it would get me to my goal of a big family faster. 2-3 fewer IVF cycles down the road, 1 less pregnancy, etc. The reality of all of the risks of multiples are scary though and if cost wasn’t a factor, they would trump convenience for me.

So, I wonder, would more people be willing to do single embryo transfer, if insurance paid for IVF? And, would insurance be more willing to cover IVF, if people did single embryo transfer? Maybe this is the answer we’ve all been waiting for…